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This section of the News and Media Services department site tracks stories in print and broadcast media that feature Auggie faculty, students, and staff. The area also is home to material developed for University-related programs, events, and more.

Michael Wentzel Appointed Augsburg University’s Lindstrom Professor of Chemistry

Michael Wentzel is wearing a white lab coat and green t-shirt and working on a chemistry experiment in a lab.Michael Wentzel has been named the inaugural Terry ’73 and Janet Lindstrom Endowed Professor of Chemistry at Augsburg University, effective June 1, 2024. 

“We are so fortunate to have Michael Wentzel on our faculty,” said Paula O’Loughlin, provost and senior vice president for academic and student affairs. “He is an extraordinary teacher and an outstanding scientist. Even more significant is his generosity as a colleague and mentor. By engaging undergraduate students as partners in his own impressive research program, he helps students unlock possibilities they never imagined before, both for themselves and for a more sustainable future.” 

Wentzel is an organic chemist whose research focuses on the growing field of green chemistry, a systems-based approach that incorporates sustainability considerations into the the design, development, and implementation of chemical products and processes. As one of the first green chemists to be named a fellow by the Science Communication Network in 2018–19, he also works to help students and other researchers communicate their methods and findings to the public more effectively. 

Wentzel received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Minnesota in 2011. He joined Augsburg’s chemistry department in 2013, where he currently oversees STEM summer research and serves as department chair. He also serves as interim director of Augsburg’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Graduate Opportunity.   

“Michael Wentzel’s approach to teaching and scholarship is exactly the kind of leadership Terry and Janet Lindstrom desired to support with their transformative investment in our new School of Natural Sciences,” said Augsburg President Paul Pribbenow. “Whether in the lab, in the classroom, or on the chemistry club intramural basketball team, he is steadfast in his commitment to hands-on learning and in saying ‘yes’ to helping our students reach their goals.”

The Terry ’73 and Janet Lindstrom Endowed Professorship of Chemistry was established in 2024. Terry Lindstrom, a current member of Augsburg’s Board of Regents and a retired distinguished research fellow at Eli Lilly and Company, holds numerous patents supporting life-changing drugs, including Evista and Cymbalta. Together, the Lindstroms have provided generous philanthropic support to Augsburg students for more than 40 years.

Augsburg Nursing Faculty Focus on Infant Health Through MDH Grant

A woman holds a baby at Health Commons. Both are wearing winter hats and jackets.
Health Commons visitors

Augsburg University Assistant Professor of Nursing Katie Martin is the recipient of a $160,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Health to support infant health in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. Martin is a certified midwife who has been providing care to expecting mothers in the area for over 20 years. Since beginning her academic tenure at Augsburg in 2021, she has become a coordinator at the Health Commons and the director of the BSN-completion program in addition to her teaching responsibilities.

“I have been honored to work at the Health Commons in Cedar Riverside over this past year and am so excited that this generous grant allows us to be able to expand the work we do,” Martin says. “We’ll restart programs that were happening pre-pandemic centered on maternal and infant health through community-led programming and community-based research.”

The funds from this grant will support new projects at the Health Commons in Cedar-Riverside, a health-focused drop-in center that is offered through a decade-long partnership between Augsburg, M Health Fairview, and the East Africa Health Project. Aligned with the grant program’s goal to reduce infant mortality in Minnesota, Martin and the Health Commons team are focused on three objectives: 

  1. Infants in the Cedar-Riverside community are born at term and at a healthy weight.
  2. Infants in the Cedar-Riverside community survive and thrive in their first year of life.
  3. East African Immigrants trust and feel safe with their health care providers in the Minneapolis metropolitan area.

This grant-funded work will be led by an Infant Health Advisory Committee organized by Martin. Much of the activities of the grant include offering infant health educational courses, distributing safe cribs, increasing safe sleep messaging and prenatal care, and hosting monthly birth celebrations at the Health Commons in Cedar-Riverside. Additionally, graduate students will be able to complete a paid internship through this grant and assist in a research project. This grant will also support ongoing programming and health services currently offered at the Health Commons, such as blood pressure checks and movement and mindfulness classes.

“This grant was extremely competitive and is a tribute to Dr. Martin’s expertise in infant health, health equity, and her relationships in Cedar-Riverside,” said Associate Professor Katie Clark, chair of Augsburg’s department of nursing and executive director of the Health Commons.  “Congratulations, Dr. Martin!”

Learn more about Augsburg’s Health Commons locations, range of services, and operating hours.

Announcing the Lindstrom Endowed Professorship of Chemistry at Augsburg University

Augsburg University is pleased to announce the establishment of the Terry ’73 and Janet Lindstrom Endowed Professorship of Chemistry.

Terry and Janet Lindstrom have generously supported Augsburg for over 40 years. Their philanthropic support includes the Augsburg Fund, summer research opportunities, the Student Emergency Fund, and the Hagfors Center. After a distinguished career in drug discovery and development at Eli Lilly and Company, Terry retired in 2010. He joined Augsburg’s Board of Regents in 2018, where he chairs the enrollment management committee.

Endowed professorships like the Lindstrom Endowed Professor of Chemistry play a vital role in supporting faculty, promoting academic excellence, and ensuring the long-term success of students. “This transformative gift affirms Augsburg’s longstanding commitment to excellence in the natural sciences,” said President Paul Pribbenow. “In a time when scientific knowledge has itself become contested, we are incredibly grateful to the Lindstroms for this investment to strengthen the critical leadership of our faculty.”

Learn more about the Lindstroms and the Lindstrom Endowed Professorship.

Lee’RayVone G’everdloaahn ’26 Named a Newman Civic Fellow

Lee'RayVone G'everdloaahn is wearing a black short-sleeved shirt and glassesLee’RayVone G’everdloaahn ’26 is among the student civic leaders recently named to the 2024–25 cohort of Newman Civic Fellows by Campus Compact.

Campus Compact is a national coalition of colleges and universities committed to the public purposes of higher education. The Newman Civic Fellowship recognizes students who stand out for their commitment to creating positive change in communities locally and around the world. Fellows are nominated by Campus Compact member presidents and chancellors, who are invited to select one outstanding student from their campus each year.

G’everdloaahn is an Act Six Scholar with a double major in psychology and critical race and ethnicity studies and a minor in statistics. Outside of class, he is an active member of the Augsburg community, serving as the founder and president of the Poetry and Meaningful Writing Club, a residence life community advisor, chair of operations for Act Six at Augsburg, and a Bonner Community Leader. He has performed several spoken word pieces at major university functions, including the annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation and Afrikan Night.

“Growing up in North Minneapolis, I’ve witnessed and experienced various community issues like police brutality, inadequate mental health resources, gang violence, addiction, and much more,” said G’everdloaahn. “Despite hoping for improvement time and time again, conditions have persisted, birthed in the fabric of American society for centuries. If there is one thing that Critical Race has taught me since I first began my study, it’s that these systems have been meticulously and oppressively constructed, and will require equal effort to dismantle. However, waiting passively for change isn’t an option … I aim to develop and enforce this change and be the hope I have always wanted to see.”

Campus Compact provides Newman Fellows with a year of learning and networking opportunities that emphasize personal, professional, and civic growth. Each year, fellows participate in numerous virtual training and networking opportunities to help provide them with the skills and connections they need to create large-scale positive change. The cornerstone of the fellowship is the Annual Convening of Fellows, which offers intensive in-person skill-building and networking over the course of two days. The fellowship also provides fellows with pathways to apply for exclusive scholarship and post-graduate opportunities.

“Lee’RayVone brings the fullness of his experiences and curiosity to campus and the classroom,” wrote President Paul C. Pribbenow in his nomination letter. “A thoughtful and forthright student, he enriches Augsburg’s community of learners, teachers, and anyone else lucky enough to get the opportunity to spend some time with him.”

“We are honored to recognize such an outstanding group of community-committed students,” said Campus Compact President Bobbie Laur. “One of the best parts of the Newman Civic Fellowships is the richness of students’ perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds—and how these varied stories all led to their passionate engagement with the social, political, and environmental issues impacting our world. These students will be the catalysts for change on many levels, and we are privileged to help empower them to create that change.”

“I envision a world in which nobody has to ever “hope” for change to happen ever again, and I will make it a reality,” said G’everdloaahn.

Learn more about the Newman Civic Fellowship and about Lee’RayVone G’everdloaahn on Campus Compact’s website.

Advisory: Augsburg Celebrates Class of 2024 at Commencement on May 8

Close-up of a student in cap and gown amidst the crowd at 2023 Augsburg commencementAugsburg University will celebrate the class of 2024 at an in-person commencement ceremony at Target Center in downtown Minneapolis on Wednesday, May 8 at 6:00 p.m.

Augsburg’s commencement ceremony reflects the diversity of its community, as graduates traditionally wear stoles and cords of different colors that represent affiliation with various communities and programs. Flags displayed at commencement represent sovereign nations of American Indian students and countries of the international students graduating in the ceremony.

Tickets are required to attend in person, but the ceremony will also be livestreamed. Follow the celebration through the hashtag #AuggieGrad on social media platforms.

For more information, including accessibility information, visit the commencement website.

Media contact:
Rachel Farris
farrisr@augsburg.edu
(612) 330-1476

 

Community Gathering: Weaving Together the Past, Present, and Future of 2511 E. Franklin Avenue

Neighbors and community members are invited to attend an upcoming gathering about the past, present, and future of 2511 E. Franklin Ave. 

Augsburg University recently announced an agreement to sell the property to the Somali Museum of Minnesota to develop a permanent museum facility and cultural center on the former Bethany Lutheran Church site. The university has worked with community-based developer Redesign to identify a financially sustainable, community-serving use for the property that contributes to the vitality of the East Franklin corridor. During the 2023 legislative session, the Somali Museum was approved for state funding to advance the project. 

A community gathering will take place on Saturday, April 27, from 12:30–3:30 p.m. at Matthews Recreation Center (2318 29th Ave. S., Minneapolis). All are welcome to learn about the Somali Museum and the vision for the project and to share stories about the site’s history and place in Seward. RSVPs for the April 27 event are encouraged but not required. 

Augsburg Named a 2024–25 Military Friendly® School 

Blue seal with white and blue lettering that reads: Military Friendly School '24-25 GoldAugsburg University has been named a 2024–25 Military Friendly® School, earning a gold ranking.

Military Friendly® Schools strive toward and succeed in the areas that matter most in helping veterans make the transition from the military to school and, ultimately, satisfying careers in the civilian world. 

The Military Friendly® Schools list is created each year based on extensive research using public data sources from more than 8,800 schools nationwide, input from student veterans, and responses to the proprietary, data-driven Military Friendly® Schools survey from participating institutions. More than 1,800 schools participated in the 2024–2025 survey with 537 earning special awards for going above the standard.

Learn more about how Augsburg proudly supports military veterans and those who actively serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Augsburg Students Win Competitive National Scholarships, Fellowships

Luke Omodt smiles at camera while wearing a maroon shirt. Little waterfalls and greenery are behind him.
Luke Omodt ’25
Emma Joswiak-McLaughlin smiles at the camera in a living room. She has brown eyes and a kind face.
Emma Joswiak-McLaughlin ’24
Elizabeth Goff smiles at the camera in front of a white background and bouquet of flowers.
Elizabeth Goff ’25
Sara Sirag smiles at the camera in front of a while wall. She's wearing a pink long sleeve shirt.
Sara Sirag ’25
Anna Hudak smiles at the camera. Her hair is curly, and she is outside.
Anna Hudak ’25

This spring, Augsburg students have received awards and scholarships from some of the top programs across the country, highlighting different disciplines, experiences, locations, and goals. Meet our award winners and explore their areas of interest. 

Goldwater Scholarship

Luke Omodt ’25 has been named a Goldwater Scholar, one of the top STEM awards in the country. The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation provides scholarships to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering. Omodt, a physics and chemistry double major, is currently conducting computational materials science research with Assistant Professor of Physics Daniel Hickox-Young, which will continue into the summer thanks to funding from Dean and Amy Sundquist. Previously, Omodt conducted research with Assistant Professor of Physics Moumita Dasgupta, as well as at the University of Minnesota and Cornell University. 

Fulbright Teaching Assistantship

Emma Joswiak-McLaughlin ’24 has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Bulgaria. The education major is a member of the National Education Association Aspiring Educators program as well as Lambda Pi Eta, the National Communication Studies Honor Society. She has worked for Augsburg’s Writing Center and is currently student-teaching at Southwest High School in Minneapolis. To prepare for her Fulbright grant, Joswiak-McLaughlin has been volunteering at a number of animal rescue organizations, learning Bulgarian, and attempting to cook Bulgarian cuisine. 

Critical Language Scholarship Spark

Elizabeth Goff ’25 is majoring in psychology and has a double minor in studio art and religion. She won the Critical Language Scholarship Spark, a year-long program designed to help undergraduate students learn languages and enhance their global engagement. Over the summer, Goff will be studying Russian virtually. Only 10% of applicants win the award nationwide. She hopes to use this new knowledge to help her with her research in the future. “With CLS Spark, I will have the ability to expand my knowledge in other countries’ methods in research when it comes to social isolation, loneliness, and accessibility for homebound and at-risk populations,” Goff says.

Peace Scholars

On campus, Augsburg’s Norway Hub recently announced the 2024-25 Peace Scholars. Sara Sirag ’25 and Anna Hudak ’25 will be representing Augsburg University while in Norway this summer. The goal of the Peace Scholars program is to develop student leaders inspired to careers or lifelong interests in world peace issues. While attending University of Oslo International Summer School, these students will deepen their understanding of the central issues and theories regarding conflict, war, and peace. 

Sirag is a social work major and first-generation college student. She was born in Eritrea and raised in Minnesota. Her passion for prison reform and studying mass incarceration informs her interest in Norway and peace studies. She has a strong appreciation for Norway’s welfare systems and their prison systems rooted in rehabilitation and restorative justice. Her goal is to work with diverse populations while challenging and pushing herself to understand different systems. She believes in advocating for change and those enduring injustices across the world.

Hudak is an international relations and history double major, with a minor in music. She’s from Prior Lake, Minnesota. During her time studying abroad in Greece, Anna developed a passion for peace studies and promoting intercultural dialogue, recognizing its power as a catalyst for positive change in an increasingly interconnected world. In addition to teaching English in Greece after graduation, Anna hopes to use her affinity for writing and storytelling to illuminate underrepresented narratives and non-violent conflict resolutions as a peace journalist.

Congratulations to these students on their outstanding achievements!

Chris Stedman ’08 Talks Religious “Nones” With MPR

MPR News logoOn March 5, Chris Stedman ’08 joined Minnesota Public Radio to talk about religious “nones”—people who check the “none” box when asked about their religious affiliation. Stedman, who teaches in Augsburg’s Department of Religion and Philosophy, is working on a book that explores the cultural forces behind the rise in “nones.” His conversation with Cathy Wurzer was part of a new Minnesota Now series called “Faith in Minnesota.”

“I don’t think it’s that religion is going away,” Stedman said. “Rather I think there are these cultural forces that are pushing people out of religious institutions and institutions more broadly, as you say, things like consumerism that pushes us to think of ourselves as individual consumers rather than part of this larger whole, things like increasingly precarious employment, which makes it harder to participate regularly in things and makes us feel like religion or spirituality is something we have to do on our own time fitted in between all our other commitments and obligations if we have time to think about it at all.

“So to me, if people are worried about the decline of religious affiliation or participation, the biggest thing they can do honestly is to work toward a more equitable and just world where people have more time to consider life’s big questions, to get engaged with the world around them, and connect and participate and belong. And this is why I love teaching this religion class I teach at Augsburg because my main goal there is simply to help carve out space in my student’s busy, demanding lives to reflect on what matters to them and why and on their responsibility to the world around them, all the kinds of questions that religion at its best puts before people.”

Listen to the complete interview via MPR: “Faith in Minnesota: who are religious ‘nones’?”

Augsburg University to Sell East Franklin Avenue Property to Somali Museum of Minnesota

Augsburg University and the Somali Museum of Minnesota today announced an agreement for Augsburg to sell the former Bethany Lutheran Church property at 2511 East Franklin Avenue to the Somali Museum in order to develop a permanent museum facility and cultural center. 

Since 2020, the university has worked with community-based developer Redesign (formerly Seward Redesign) to identify a financially sustainable, community-serving use for the property that contributes to the vitality of the East Franklin Avenue corridor. The church building and property were donated to Augsburg in May 2020 before the Bethany Lutheran congregation dissolved in September 2021. 

“We are so pleased to partner with the Somali Museum to advance their compelling vision to invest in a new museum site in the Seward neighborhood,” said Augsburg President Paul Pribbenow. “This project represents a unique opportunity to create an enduring, transformational impact along East Franklin—one that aligns with Augsburg’s educational mission and honors Bethany Lutheran’s legacy of welcome and service to immigrant communities.”  

Founded in 2009, the Somali Museum of Minnesota currently houses a collection of more than 1,500 items in a gallery on East Lake Street. “Our mission is education and to build bridges that connect the community together,” said Osman Ali, the museum’s founder and director. “With a larger, permanent home for the museum, we hope to serve a wide variety of communities, whether young Somalis who have grown up in the United States or Minnesotans of other heritages who may not be familiar with Somali art and traditional culture. All are welcome.” 

Augsburg worked with Redesign on a feasibility assessment that evaluated the financial implications, neighborhood impacts, and partnership opportunities related to three options for the site: renovation, adaptive reuse of the existing structures, and ground-up redevelopment. When redevelopment emerged as the most financially sustainable scenario, given extensive deferred maintenance needs and a limited market for adaptive reuse, Redesign connected the museum and the university to explore a potential fit.  

“The prospect of locating the Somali Museum on the site was exciting to us from the start,” said Andy Hestness, executive director of Redesign. “The new museum will be an important community anchor and cultural destination, joining long-standing institutions like the Minneapolis American Indian Center, Norway House, and the American Swedish Institute along and near the Franklin corridor.” 

Augsburg remains committed to honoring current lease and license agreements with tenants of the former church building as the sale moves forward. Several former tenants have transitioned to new locations in recent months. Soup for You Café, which has operated at the site since 2015, will move operations to Holy Trinity Lutheran Church on East Lake Street in June. 

The Somali Museum was approved for $3.9 million in state funding during the 2023 legislative session to advance the project, with Noor Companies, the largest certified woman and minority-owned general contractor in Minnesota, as sole developer. A closing date for the property sale is anticipated later this year.  

About Augsburg University

Augsburg University offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and 11 graduate degrees to more than 3,100 students of diverse backgrounds at its campus in the vibrant center of the Twin Cities. Augsburg educates students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders. An Augsburg education is defined by excellence in the liberal arts and professional studies, guided by the faith and values of the Lutheran church, and shaped by its urban and global settings. Learn more at augsburg.edu.

About the Somali Museum of Minnesota

The Somali Museum is the home of traditional Somali arts in Minnesota. Displaying a collection of over 1,500 pieces, and offering educational programs about Somali traditional culture that are not offered anywhere else, the Somali Museum offers an unrivaled opportunity for Minnesotans of all backgrounds to encounter and learn about Somali traditional culture. The Somali Museum’s mission is to use this collection as a tool for education: making it possible for young Somalis who have grown up in the United States to connect with their culture, as well as Minnesotans of other ethnic heritage to encounter Somali art and traditional culture for the first time. The museum’s programs explore the changing role of traditional arts and culture as the Somali people move across borders and time. By promoting the highest forms of Somali creativity, the Somali Museum believes that it can also help to diminish harmful prejudice and misunderstanding. Learn more at somalimuseum.org